REVIEW: The Gadget Show Live Professional

We find out what the toy industry thought of the show's first ever trade day.
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The event's first ever trade-only day, the Gadget Show Live Professional, attracted 4,735 trade and press from the UK and Europe, with an additional 104,579 consumers visiting the NEC, Birmingham – a 50 per cent increase on last year’s show.

After receiving positive exhibitor feedback on the trade day, marketing manager for the Gadget Show Live Professional, Helen Marriot revealed it is here to stay. She tells ToyNews: “People seem very happy that we’ve added it in and on the whole we are pleased with how it went. We will definitely be continuing with it.”

The next Gadget Show Live has been confirmed for April 10th to 15th 2012, with the Professional day on April 9th.

In 2010, only two hours were set-aside for exhibitors to network and do business before doors opened to the public. “It’s very difficult to have business discussions in a consumer environment, especially where people might want to talk about sensitive subjects like trade prices,” Marriot says.

Marriot explains to ToyNews that the organiser was keen to see more toys on show next year, adding: “They make the event fun by giving children a hands on experience of playing, which is very important for the event. They also fit the TV programme’s profile as a family show.

“It would be great to see more quality toy manufacturers get involved. With all the expensive high end tech on show, there needs to be affordable gadgets consumers can take home and the toys are perfect for this.”

Customer Interaction

All exhibitors at the show are allowed to serve as pop-up shops – selling products as well as showing them.

For Re:creation, this set-up worked a charm. Launching its new SoleSkate product alongside its established Razor range of scooters, Re:creation had its own specially built racetrack for customers to experience the wheeled toys. The firm estimates that more than 5,000 kids took a Razor for a ride on the track.

The result? The low price point SoleSkates were a huge hit. Brand manager, Alex Kovacevic, says: “We had to keep getting more stock delivered every day as they continually sold out. By the end of each day, I saw dozens of kids cruising round the show on SoleSkates.”

However, when asked about the trade day, Kovacevic pointed out that the show was at a disadvantage as it falls outside of the toy industry’s key buying period: “We attend most of the big toy trade shows such as Toy Fair and Spring Fair, so most of our trade business is done at these events. There was very little upside for us on the trade day. The focus of the Gadget Show Live for us was always to get in font of our consumers and give them a chance to experience Razor.”

Newcomers to the event, VTech also highlighted the chance to interact with its customers.

“We were attracted to the Gadget Show as it was a good opportunity to sponsor the Kids Tech zone. The open play desks, comfortable bean bags and interactive TV screen created a perfect sponsorship area for VTech to showcase our Tech, including Kidizoom Plus, Kidizoom VideoCam, MobiGo and Storio,” says Matthew Shaw, VTech product manager.

“VTech were there in an effort to communicate to parents and children, so the sponsorship area was in a much more child friendly style, rather then a trade style.”

Other exhibitors found the trade day more useful. Manchester gadget distributor Envious, offering range of miniature R/C battle bots and an autonomous maze-navigating robot, said that it had struck deals with retailers visiting from Europe.

Innovation First was also enthusiastic about the trade day, showing the Hexbug brand. Marketing manager, Heather Rowson, comments: “It’s a really good opportunity to sell to consumers as well as trade, and it allows us to reach a bit of an older audience who are more interested in big boys toys.”

Firebox.com also found the extra day fruitful, using the time to link up with attending retailers and e-tailers looking to place orders with its growing distribution arm.

The Gadget Show Brand

“Consumers see the exhibitors almost as partners of the Gadget Show,” says GSL’s Marriot – and help from the Gadget Show brand has been proven to result in hard sales.

Dave Rawlins, managing director of Flying Toys, explains: “There is no question that The Gadget Show has considerable influence on consumer's buying habits, and Flying Toys sold more of Silverlit's Heli Mission's after this product was voted the ultimate top toy in 2009, than we did following 1,000 TVRs on national television.”

Flying Toys may have struck gold again. After recently picking up the exclusive distribution rights to Parrot’s AR.Drone, the iPhone controlled ‘quadrocopter’ was voted in Jason Bradbury’s top 50 toys at the GSL.

“We were thrilled to discover Jason had selected the AR.Drone as one of The Gadget Show Live's top 50 must-have gadgets, and feel sure this endorsement will be reflected in forthcoming sales,” Rawlins enthuses.

Also receiving a similar support from Bradbury, Re:creation’s Kovacevic adds: “RipRider 360, our caster trike was extremely popular. This was a product that has previously be featured on the Gadget Show and is a personal favourite of Gadget Show presenter.”

The Gadget Show Live as a whole has clear benefits, providing an ideal environment to sell, show-off and have fun with customers. Having your tech-based toys associated with The Gadget Show can be great for business - especially if they earn the TV programme’s seal of approval.

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